How to Copwatch and protect yourself.
When doing any form of activism always take recording equipment with you.
It is always a good idea to take a video camera with you during activism, if you are attacked by a individual or member of a the police force you at least have a chance to gather evidence that they have assualted or intimidated you. This has also saved activists from being charged with offences in the past when people have been attacked and the attacker has claimed self defence.
When police approach you note all officers numbers (and which force the belong to – its on the hat badge or uniform) and if possible film faces and name tags (where applicable). If they are not wearing numbers for any reason take a photo or film their faces and ask them for their police number whilst recording. If they refuse or ask for your details first tell them it is unlawful for a police officer to not give their number when asked for it.
Giving your name and address
If a police officer asks for your details, whilst recording them ask them if you have commited a crime or if you have been “anti social” if they say no then you have no reason to give your details and by law can refuse. If you are driving a vehicle or the officer is attempting to give you a court summons you must give your details. You do not need to give your date of birth.
It is not illegal to film or document police officers but you may be asked to keep a short distance from officers if they are making an arrest. If an officer threatens you continue to film and tell them you are documenting their conduct. They might then say you are causing them “Alarm, Harrasement and/or distress” this is ridiculous if they threaten to arrest you under Section 5 for filming them try to hold your ground – you may be about to be arrested illegally – if you think this is the case give the filming equipment to another activist and tell them to take it away from the scene (before it is confiscated) or if the police attempt to seize the equipment separate the media (tape, camera card, disk) from the equipment and to make it difficult for officers to delete footage before it is returned to you. If you can give the media to another activist and then get them to move it off site. The officers asked to seize your camera not the media…